Cultural obstacles to research data management and sharing at TU Delft

Authors : Esther Plomp, Nicolas Dintzner, Marta Teperek, Alastair Dunning

Research data management (RDM) is increasingly important in scholarship. Many researchers are, however, unaware of the benefits of good RDM and unsure about the practical steps they can take to improve their RDM practices. Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) addresses this cultural barrier by appointing Data Stewards at every faculty.

By providing expert advice and increasing awareness, the Data Stewardship project focuses on incremental improvements in current data and software management and sharing practices.

This cultural change is accelerated by the Data Champions who share best practices in data management with their peers. The Data Stewards and Data Champions build a community that allows a discipline-specific approach to RDM. Nevertheless, cultural change also requires appropriate rewards and incentives.

While local initiatives are important, and we discuss several examples in this paper, systemic changes to the academic rewards system are needed. This will require collaborative efforts of a broad coalition of stakeholders and we will mention several such initiatives.

This article demonstrates that community building is essential in changing the code and data management culture at TU Delft.

URL : Cultural obstacles to research data management and sharing at TU Delft

DOI: http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.484

On a Quest for Cultural Change – Surveying Research Data Management Practices at Delft University of Technology

Authors : Heather Andrews Mancilla, Marta Teperek, Jasper van Dijck, Kees den Heijer, Robbert Eggermont, Esther Plomp, Yasemin Turkyilmaz-van der Velden, Shalini Kurapati

The Data Stewardship project is a new initiative from the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. Its aim is to create mature working practices and policies regarding research data management across all TU Delft faculties.

The novelty of this project relies on having a dedicated person, the so-called ‘Data Steward’, embedded in each faculty to approach research data management from a more discipline-specific perspective. It is within this framework that a research data management survey was carried out at the faculties that had a Data Steward in place by July 2018.

The goal was to get an overview of the general data management practices, and use its results as a benchmark for the project. The total response rate was 11 to 37% depending on the faculty.

Overall, the results show similar trends in all faculties, and indicate lack of awareness regarding different data management topics such as automatic data backups, data ownership, relevance of data management plans, awareness of FAIR data principles and usage of research data repositories.

The results also show great interest towards data management, as more than ~80% of the respondents in each faculty claimed to be interested in data management training and wished to see the summary of survey results.

Thus, the survey helped identified the topics the Data Stewardship project is currently focusing on, by carrying out awareness campaigns and providing training at both university and faculty levels.

URL : On a Quest for Cultural Change – Surveying Research Data Management Practices at Delft University of Technology

Creating a Community of Data Champions

Authors : Rosie Higman, Marta Teperek, Danny Kingsley

Research Data Management (RDM) presents an unusual challenge for service providers in Higher Education. There is increased awareness of the need for training in this area but the nature of the discipline-specific practices involved make it difficult to provide training across a multi-disciplinary organisation.

Whilst most UK universities now have a research data team of some description, they are often small and rarely have the resources necessary to provide targeted training to the different disciplines and research career stages that they are increasingly expected to support.

This practice paper describes the approach taken at the University of Cambridge to address this problem by creating a community of Data Champions. This collaborative initiative, working with researchers to provide training and advocacy for good RDM practice, allows for more discipline-specific training to be given, researchers to be credited for their expertise and creates an opportunity for those interested in RDM to exchange knowledge with others.

The ‘community of practice’ model has been used in many sectors, including Higher Education, to facilitate collaboration across organisational units and this initiative will adopt some of the same principles to improve communication across a decentralised institution.

The Data Champions initiative at Cambridge was launched in September 2016 and this paper reports on the early months, plans for building the community in the future and the possible risks associated with this approach to providing RDM services.

URL : Creating a Community of Data Champions

DOI : https://doi.org/10.2218/ijdc.v12i2.562